I blow some smoke at the ceiling

-I feel like I’m forgetting something. Vyrus. Clans. Zombies. Stay out of the sun. Don’t get shot. Abandon your life. Drink blood to survive.

I shake my head.

-No. Guess that pretty much covers it.

See I have some problems in reviewing this book. First off, it’s the fourth in a series called The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston. So I can’t really give away any of the specifics of the plot that might spoil readers who go on to check the series out. And you should check these books out. Secondly, as is abundantly clear by now, I’m a fan. I didn’t just read this book, I gobbled it down and asked for seconds. Sadly my library does not have the next title in the sequence – My Dead Body – so I have to be patient and hope this latest cliff-hanger doesn’t drive me nuts before I get my hands on the concluding story.

Charlie Huston is well-known for his crime fiction, such as Caught Stealing and has just had his novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death optioned for HBO by Alan Ball. Yes the guy behind True Blood, which is ironic, given that The Joe Pitt Casebooks are about a vampire gang-banger in Manhattan, trying to carve out a life for himself while eluding the machinations of the competing ‘Clans’, who control the island itself. Huston plays to his strengths here, with Joe being a down on his luck thug for hire who just happens to be a vampire. Occasionally he would do a job from one of the big Clans, which allows him to operate on their territory. Huston introduces further tropes from noir fiction with The Coalition, the biggest clan, resembling smart-suited Mafioso’s. Then there’s The Society, a bunch of anarchists led by Terry Bird who speaks in mixed metaphors and harps on about revolution, Charles Manson-style. There’s the Enclave, religious fundamentalists– yes, we have undead mujahideen here too. Finally there’s the Hood, a vampire street gang not too fond of white folks.

It’s an interesting mix of traditional vampire themes and modern fictional tropes. Joe Pitt himself is your typical antihero, capable of being quite cruel at times, but also possessing a code of sorts that allows you to root for him. As an independent ‘rogue’, owing fealty to none of the Clans, his position on Manhattan Island has always been tenuous. He’s always been a bit like Clint Eastwood’s stranger from A Fistful of Dollars, playing the Clans off against one another to buy himself more time. Half the Blood in Brooklyn brought matters to a head and this book deals with the fall-out.

Joe’s been living in exile for over a year in the Bronx, trying not to draw any attention to himself now that he’s burned his bridges with the Clans. Finally an opportunity arrives to return across the water. Joe’s got unfinished business in Manhattan. There’s Amanda Horde for one, the billionaire heiress he met during the events of Already Dead. She’s a human who knows all about vampires, with money enough to do something about it. She makes the Clans nervous and given her friendly disposition to Joe, he’s asked to find out what exactly she is planning. Then there’s the bounty on Joe’s head that he needs to clear and the possibility of all-out Clan war. Most of all, he’s heading back to Manhattan to find the girl he left behind a year ago. The girl he loves whose life he saved and who may just kill him for it.

Huston’s increasing the pace of the action with each book in the series and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for his grand finale. For the most part these have been books set in the familiar world of noir fiction, despite Joe’s unusual abilities. However, in Every Last Drop Huston introduces a vision of absolute horror that disturbs as much as it frightens. There’s a sense that he’s taking the gloves off, having established enough of the world in the previous novels to now smash it to pieces.

Smart, brutal and inventive, with foul-mouthed dialogue to die for.

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